Kaira Looro Architecture Competition 2021 Women’s House

Kaira Looro Architecture Competition 2021

Women’s House

The Sanctuary:

Diane Mariechild once said, “a woman is a full circle, within her is the power to create, nurture

and transform”, this is not just a quote but it sums up the real essence of being a woman, a

sustainer of life, child’s first abode. Respecting this core value of a woman being the nurturer,

the women house celebrates women by planning introvert spaces, giving tribute to

sacredness and privacy of women and womanhood.


Nestled within an earthy mound of mother earth, lies a dwelling which provides women a safe

haven. Oriented keeping climatic conditions of the town in mind, the comforting, cool interior

spaces ensure privacy yet liberate women to relish their time with their peers and children

within the internal courtyard. Congeneric to women, water being the nurturer of life on earth,

is the central element of the design. Within the in-house courtyard a dew pond helps in

mitigating the soaring temperature, while also works as rain water harvester during the

monsoon season. The pond is towards the north to minimize evaporation. The water

collecting well, burrowed near the pond, guarantees clean drinking water that can be

extracted, using the hand-pump.


African women are the jack of all trades, always managing their maternal as well as worldly

duties harmoniously; this requires a space which is child-friendly so that a mother can work

while her children can savour their playtime in the private courtyard, towards the south,

beside the dew pond, shaded by the Moringa, or “Nebedaye” (never-die) trees. This nutrient

enriched tree can survive even in poor soil and is a savior during testing times like droughts.

The elevated seating, cuddled between the bamboo postings, functions as a comforting resting

space where women can enjoy conversations and keep an eye on their children too.

As the project site is located in an excessively humid and warm region, this obligates the use

of passive cooling techniques to maintain the microclimate. The programmes are arranged,

linearly, in a Nubian vault which is an ancient west African technique, for building weather-

resistant, rugged structures. Hidden within the mound of earth are the hollow pipes; earth

being the insulating material, keeps the internal spaces cool during sultry summers and warm

during brisk winters while this vernacular coupling method sucks in cool wind with the help

of the pipes and the hot air seeps out from the openings in the roof.


Regarding the privacy of the women and the harsh weather conditions, instead of humongous

fenestration, intricate, modest openings within the clay brick walls are provided. Not only do

they keep the scorching sun rays at bay but also illuminate the interior spaces. The double

roof of clay with reeds and shrubs within its belly collects dew which further assuages the

climatic impact within the women’s house. The prodigious roof, which also keeps the

courtyard spaces cool and shaded, pays tribute to the women, becoming their identity and the

landmark of the region.


The women’s house is not just a space for healthy discourse and dialogues but also a junction

for providing self-sustaining opportunities to the women, therefore a kitchen is part of the

programme, so in the long run the women’s house can thrive on its own. Water being the

major concern world over and the poor sanitation being the major reason of diseases, the

need of the hour calls for measures to avoid wastage of water. In order to cater to this

problem, the water from washroom is being utilized. The solid waste gets separated and

collected in the soak pit whereas the wetland beside the bathroom filters the water from the

kitchen and washrooms and utilizes it for gardening/ farming, benefitting the whole